Remain humble. Ego is fear based and fear is crippling. Maintaining humility will help to keep your focus on what is truly important in life. Popularity, glitz and glam will disappear as fast as it appears. Know the difference and learn to recognize real versus fake.
As a part of our series about the work ethic lessons we can learn from professional athletes, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brittany Gilman.
Brittany is a former professional athlete, strength and conditioning coach, and current CEO of BG Sports Enterprises and Soccer Agent. Brittany is an innovative entrepreneur with over 20 years of progressive experience in the sports industry. She is a certified intermediary through US Soccer and has utilized her expertise in international business to successfully lead BGSE Inc. for 13 years. Her experience in Professional sport began as a professional athlete (snowboarding), and soon flourished into the business of sport.
Growing up in Colorado, Brittany was the youngest of three and was born into a sports oriented family. She often credits her older brother and sister for setting the bar athletically as well as academically. Excelling at many different sports including soccer, track & cross country, horseback riding, waterskiing and snow skiing, Brittany was a perfectionist in all she did. Brittany began ski racing at age 7 and quickly climbed the ranks. At age 11, Brittany competed in the Junior Olympics for skiing and took third in the U14 Slalom. Shortly thereafter in a rebellious move, Brittany discovered snowboarding, and from there it was a wrap.
Brittany fell in love with the sport and was competing in big air and slopestyle within three years of learning. By age 17 she was competing in semi-professional competitions and by 19 she was a sponsored athletes and on the Professional circuit. After graduating high school with a 4.4 GPA Brittany decided to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder where she was a member of the CU Snowboard team and competed in halfpipe in multiple professional circuits including the US Grand Prix, Vans Triple Crown, the Olympic Trials and more. At age 19, Brittany earned an invitation for a spot on the US Junior Olympic Snowboard Team. Juggling a Kinesiology degree and competing professionally was a challenge for Brittany, but nonetheless through her dedication and determination she was able to succeed at both.
After snowboarding competitively for 5 years and graduating from CU with a degree in Kinesology, Brittany decided to move to Mammoth Lakes, CA to pursue her snowboarding full time. It was during this period that Brittany changed boot sponsors and developed a minor injury which lead her to take a break from Snowboarding. Soon after she took a position at USC with the Trojans as a Strength and Conditioning Coach intern which would eventually drastically change the direction of her life. Lead by Coach Pete Carol, the Trojans were pursuing their third national championship. Brittany’s summer internship lead to a longer position in which Brittany decided to take advantage of to pursue her next dream of being the first female Strength and Conditioning Coach in the NFL.
Brittany played an integral part in the Trojan’s “three-peat” journey as one of two women in the weight room. She refers to this time in her life as her “initiation into the male-dominated sports world”. After a year at USC, Brittany took a graduate assistant position as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for Auburn University.
For the next year she was in charge of the training programs for the women’s tennis team, men and women’s track and field/cross country as well as the national champion men and women’s diving team. Upon completion of her Maters Degree in Biomechanics in 12 months, she moved back to Los Angeles to intern at a sports marketing agency and pursue her next chapter, the business side of sports.
After three months at the sports marketing agency, Brittany decided to leave and launch her own firm. BG Sports was established in 2007 to bridge the gap between athletes and opportunities available to them. Since 2007, BG Sports has worked with over 200 Professional Athletes and celebrities worldwide including NFL, Boxing, UFC, Soccer and more. “BGSE” has grown into an international sports branding and representation agency, setting the bar and leading the way in innovation, creativity and athlete representation. BGSE has worked with athletes such as:
Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, Jarvis Landry, Chad Ochocinco, Antoine Bethea, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Mike Vick, Kamaru Usman, Ronnie Hillman, Jermon Bushrod, Ilkay Gundoan, Kayla Harrison, Henry Cejudo, Jeremy Kerley, Olivier Giroud, Michael Essien, Ronnie Hillman, Andre Berto, Demaryius Thomas, Actor Taye Diggs and many others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Well I was the youngest of three, born into an athletic and academic-oriented family. From a young age I was very driven, following in the footsteps of my older brother and sister. I participated in many sports including soccer, basketball, skiing, horseback riding, ballet, gymnastics, water skiing, track and cross-country. I was never pushed to do anything but just had a strong desire to succeed and be the best in everything I did. My brother set the bar academically and athletically, my sister followed, and so did I. I always felt like growing up in Colorado was such a blessing as I was able to develop a great respect for nature and our environment. I’m forever grateful for this.
I can honestly say I had a tremendous childhood, every day I thank God for this. We had our challenges as every family does, but overall it was magic. Challenging enough for me to develop character and yet as adventurous as you could get. I was greatly supported on all levels by my family to pursue my dreams, no matter how bold they were and without doubt.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete?
I think this was a combination of many things. It was the competitiveness that was just instilled inside me since I was born. It was a deep desire to achieve greatness, to be the best. It was also to make my family proud, to make myself proud. It’s really hard to pinpoint or explain these feelings, they’ve always just been a part of what makes met tick.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My mom and my dad. They’re both so different, but each one has inspired me and shaped the person I am today. My mom has showed me the true meaning of loving oneself and being selfless. She’s supported me no matter what and always been there to catch me when I fell. My dad has supported me as well and especially in my athletic journey, in so many ways. He is a beast of an athlete to this day and I’m so very grateful for the adventures we’ve had.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
One of the mistakes I made was not clearly defining specifics for agreements and signing contracts before providing the work. It’s often difficult to do this, especially in the sports industry as things move quickly and big opportunities come rarely. However, it’s important to understand that people will take as much as you give. It’s up to you to define those terms and stick to your word. You must respect yourself and your worth because you are the person who defines this.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful business person?
I competed Professionally at a very young age 17–24. I also was in college during this time, as snowboarding wasn’t an NCAA sanctioned sport, I was able to compete and have sponsors. Once I graduated, I was so excited to be able to focus solely on snowboarding, so I moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA to give it everything I had. Unfortunately I had just changed boot sponsors and I developed a minor injury that, although not serious, was brutally painful and I wasn’t able to compete, or even train. It was at this time that I decided I was going to take a break from snowboarding and pursue another dream of mine; to become the first female strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. That’s when I got an internship at USC Football as S & C Assistant. I could write a book (actually am) on everything I learned at USC. This was definitely my initiation into the male dominated world of sports. The story on how I developed BG Sports Enterprises is also enough for a book, but I overall I truly feel as though I created my dream job. I took what I knew and applied it, I learned as I went and applied the same mindset of an athlete. Always training, polishing and improving my skills and striving to be better.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects new you are working on now?
Right now is an interesting time as we’re enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. So the world of sports has come to a halt just like many other industries in our universe. I’m using this time to focus on my other projects. I’ve been developing an app and a platform that will change the sports industry. I truly believe this without a doubt. I’m taking my time on it as it needs to be perfect, well as much as I can control. I took all the issues and challenges faced in the industry and provided a solution for it. It’s called BPOP, stands for “Brand Promotional Opportunities” and hopefully we will have launched a version of it before summer.
I also recently became a registered US Soccer Intermediary, in layman terms a soccer agent. This is very exciting for me and I’ve been working on this for many years. My specialty is international branding and transfers. So once this pandemic stops beating up the world, I’m going to be working on many different components of this.
Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about what you mean?
My experience as an athlete has 100% molded me into the person I am today. I still feel as though I’m an athlete and I approach business as an athlete. They don’t call it “the game of life” for nothing! I think one of the main things I developed as an athlete was dedication and toughness. No one’s journey is without struggle, without challenges. These are what develop your character.
I remember learning a new trick for snowboarding. Not only did you have to increase confidence for each attempt, you had to rid yourself completely of the fear and believe without a doubt you could to it. You had to visualize yourself completing this trick. The half pipe was challenging on so many different levels. It was very technical, being able to get amplitude out of the top of the halfpipe was hard, shoot, learning how to ride up the wall was hard. If you’ve never been in a half pipe then this will be complete gibberish to you, but overall, it was not easy. I would train for hours, riding down and practicing combinations, then taking my snowboard off and hiking back up. The lifts were rarely short and right near the half pipe so it was much quicker to just hike. In addition, it was phenomenal training.
You would try and try again, falling over and over until you finally landed a trick. Sometimes you would have very hard falls, these took longer to get up from. They also took more courage to come back from to try again. You had to listen to your body as well, when did you get too tired, when was it time to quit and come back another day. All of this taught me such valuable lessons. Life is the same. Any goal you create you have to work toward, to put in time, to develop the skillsets. You will most likely fail many times before you succeed. Even when you do, you’re not guaranteed to stay there, you have to continue to get better and prove yourself.
C’est la vie. This is life.
Ok. Here is the main question of our interview. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes share a common “hustle culture”. Can you share your “5 Work Ethic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Athletes”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Always strive to improve your abilities and services
Never get complacent, the minute you do, someone or some company will come and take your place. The industry is constantly changing and you must change with it or be the reason for the change.
2. Remain humble
Ego is fear based and fear is crippling. Maintaining humility will help to keep your focus on what is truly important in life. Popularity, glitz and glam will disappear as fast as it appears. Know the difference and learn to recognize real versus fake.
3. Respect others; their time, their humanity
We are all in this together. Competition is healthy as it pushes us to constantly improve and better ourselves, but at the end of the day we are all human. Respecting one another leads to greater progression as a race!
4. Never burn bridges
People are most often out for themselves, and sometimes we never know why people do what they do. On the flip side, you are the only person who knows why you do what you do. You are in control of your actions and where you choose to place your attention. In challenging situations it’s important to walk the high road, be the bigger person. Even if someone does you dirty. It’s truly about them and not you. You also never know what the future holds. Karma has a way of coming back around and perhaps the roles will be switched. You may need that person.
5. Value yourself
You ultimately determine your worth and its up to you to enforce this and let the world know who you are. However do this from a place of love, not ego.
What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?
Experience is the most valuable thing to offer. So if you don’t have any, do what you can to get it. Utilize your network and be creative. Anything is possible so don’t ever question your goals no matter how grand or bizarre. Always maintain your character and provide honest value to people. Most of all, no matter how difficult, always do the right thing. Your character will be a rare commodity in the sports industry (and many others), this one of the pillars in which success is built off of.
You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I work with many charities who all have amazing causes. I’m also a steering committee board member for a phenomenal organization called “Football For Peace”. (www.FootballForPeaceGlobal.org). This brings me great honor and the objectives of FfP are close to my heart and I truly believe vital to this world.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement it would be for environmental change. For each one of us to be more thoughtful in terms of our environment. I would love to inspire a tree-planting movement! Where everyone sets a goal of a certain number of trees to plant per year! That would be just beautiful.
When all is said and done and I sell my app for a silly amount of money, I am going to take my earnings and invest them into conservation, renewable energy, cleaning our air, and helping save our planet.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite life lesson quote would be,“ The only limitations that exist in this world are those in which you impose upon yourself.” This resonates with me tremendously because of it’s validity!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would be honored to sit down with Mark Cuban. He is a tremendous entrepreneur and also involved in sports. He has been successful in many different areas and would also love my app haha!